NBC Looking to Grab All of MSNBC.com

AdWeek’s Mike Shields has a major scoop that NBC Universal is in talks to get full control of MSNBC.com.

As recently as two years ago, there were reports that MSNBC.com would rebrand in order to distinguish itself from the cable net’s left-wing persona. But apparently, under the Comcast reign, the company is more interested in using MSNBC.com to further its network brand. “It drives those guys crazy that they can’t have personalities like Maddow and company on the Web more,” said a source. However, most insiders know that MSNBC.com couldn’t pull in 55.7 million uniques (comScore, April 2012) with Maddow and Matthews alone. The site benefits heavily from its prominent placement on the MSN portal, and that’s something NBCU will be hesitant to give up.

Thus, according to one source, the companies are likely to negotiate a deal ensuring that MSNBC.com secures real estate on MSN.com—similar to the current treatment Fox Sports receives.

TVNewser’s Alex Weprin adds

Inside NBC, there has been talk of a new website for weeks. The site is believed to be NBCNews.com, which would serve as a news hub, as well as the online home for programs like “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press” and “Rock Center.” MSNBC.com would probably serve as the home for the cable channel’s politically-focused programming and news.

There is one thing that a potential separation does which neither Shields nor Weprin touches on (surprisingly). It goes a long way to separating NBC News and its News Division from MSNBC and its left wing ideology and POV news analysis shows. Shields indirectly references that by citing the two year old MSNBC.com rebranding news but apparently doesn’t realize that this separation can accomplish the same thing as the re-branding proposal.

Another thing this separation potentially will do is furnish the opportunity to create an alternative to The Huffington Post. NBCU tried to grab The Huffington Post at one point but didn’t get there. With NBC News and its shows safely removed from any possible exposure damage coming from the MSNBC POV brand, it opens up the possibilities to remake MSNBC.com more in MSNBC’s POV image. I could foresee a whole bunch of POV online content, similar to what HuffPo does, appear on the “new” MSNBC.com. MSNBC already has a lot of Progressive POV stars and major Progressive contributors tied down contractually. They could all start writing columns on the new site. And, like HuffPo, there can be the occasional “dissenting voice” (read: Conservative) column from MSNBC’s meager group of Conservative stars/contributors.

Do I think it would really go this way and try and HuffPo the site? No. That requires way too much foresight, planning, and infrastructure change to make it seem likely in a real world scenario. It would be easier to start from scratch than to convert the existing site over but I don’t think they would go that route. On the other hand they could create a new MSNBC.com from scratch while de-MSNBCing the old MSNBC.com and rename that NBCNews.com. That’s another possibility.

There’s a third possible outcome here that should be discussed: Name change. With Microsoft now totally out of the picture, NBC would finally be in a position to take the “MS” out of “MSNBC” once and for all. NBC already had control of the TV side of MSNBC but changing the name for just the TV channel wouldn’t work from a branding consistency standpoint unless the website changed names too. But with full control of everything NBC now has the opportunity to rename the channel and the website at the same time.

Do I think this likely? If MSNBC TV goes completely POV and NBC News extracts itself from the channel (read: dayside news goes away completely) then it becomes a far more likely option. But MSNBC, as far into the POV realm as it has gotten in the past two years, is still something of a half-breed with pockets of news (and NBC News talent) here and there so name change to something that is more reflective of the channel’s increasing POV bent, is not a realistic option at this time.

6 Responses to “NBC Looking to Grab All of MSNBC.com”

  1. I wonder if there’s a way that msnbc.com could still exist and make msnbc a different name with it’s own website. I have noticed that Nbc’s news programs have gone route of their own urls which redirect to msnbc.com

  2. BSNBC.com has a nice ring to it

  3. Part of MSNBC.com is already branded NBCPolitics.com — the TV channel should really be renamed NBC Politics Network or NBC “News” Network to be consistent with the current NBC-Comcast properties.

  4. savefarris Says:

    How about ‘AirAmerica.com’? I don’t think anyone’s using it at the moment.

  5. capricex Says:

    @save haha I was going to say the same! At this point Air America would make sense because what it is. Hopefully NBC news finally cut ties with MS as it is bringing down there brand. There was a post by Jansing on facebook about her day and it seemed like they were sending her to cover alot of Rock Center stories that she was assigned to do over her show. So hopefully with this and that insight maybe they’ll move her and Mitchell off MS and fully brand it POV. It’s just a shame that the cable news netwrok with network ties had to be the one to counter FOX.

  6. Fox is a network, too, and a decidedly liberal one. I don’t hear people freaking out because Fox’s cable news sister has a POV.

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